Backgroundchecks.com FAQs

Browse the categories below or start typing your question to get fast answers about background checks, verifications, and other products.

Are instant criminal searches accurate and thorough?
An instant criminal search is only as accurate as the state, local or federal agency reporting the data. We have limited control in their update frequency as it is set by and varies by each data source’ this ranges from as frequently as daily to semi-annually. For a source specific update frequency we recommend you explore our interactive coverage map, which lists the update frequency in the source descriptions. With that said, data strength is one of many aspects that sets us apart from our competitors and we go to great lengths to acquire and maintain our data and pride ourselves on typically updating our database with new records within five days of receipt. Moreover, criminal records and subject demographics will vary based on the data source. For instance, some data sources provide full dates of birth while others may only provide year of birth or none at all. Information associated with criminal records also varies such as: plea, disposition, degree of offense, etc… In some cases the data source provides obscure or very few details about the record.
Can a Background Check Reveal Past Employers?
There is no background check that provides a list of places a candidate has worked. However, we can individually verify the workplaces that a candidate lists on their resume.
Can Background Checks Be Shared?
You should consider background check records a part of candidates or employees’ private files and not share these checks beyond your company’s hiring team, aside from sharing them with the candidates or employees themselves.
Can Background Checks Verify Salary?
Yes, salary is one of the pieces of information that a work history verification check can verify.
Can you just search the web to find all past employers?
No, such search options do not exist.
Can you just search which school my applicant attended?
You may refer to the learning center here.
Can you provide a CDL report?
Yes, as part of a driving record report, we report the license class, which could be CDL.
Can you verify all past education on their resume with one search?
You may refer to the learning center here.
Do arrests show on background checks?

One of the most common questions about criminal background checks is whether reports will show arrest records. 

The answer depends on the state. Some states have laws prohibiting employers from asking about arrest records or using them for employment-related decisions. Since arrests themselves are not proof of guilt, they are unreliable and often unfair when used as a barrier to employment. 

At backgroundchecks.com, we always exclude arrest history information from our background check reports to protect our customers from compliance issues. To learn whether your state legally allows the use of arrest records for hiring, read our white paper on the matter.

Do background check laws vary by state?
Before you start exploring state-level criminal records, understand that not every state has the same background check laws. If your background check process will span multiple states, such as for a candidate who recently moved from one state to another, you may encounter very different background check rules. Learn more
Do dismissed cases show on background checks?

Similar to arrests, dismissed cases are not proof of guilt. However, a dismissed case may appear on a candidate’s background check. An arrest that never led to a criminal charge is one thing, but a criminal charge stays on the person’s record even if the charges are dismissed, or the case ends in a not guilty verdict. 

Just because dismissed charges may show up on a background check doesn’t mean employers need to consider them. In most cases, employers recognize the difference between a formal conviction and a charge that ultimately didn’t go anywhere. To learn more about this subject, read our full post about dismissed cases and background checks.

Do expunged or sealed records show on background checks?

If a candidate has successfully petitioned to have their criminal records sealed or expunged, those convictions should no longer appear on a background check report. An expunged record is essentially scrubbed from existence, while a sealed record should only be accessible to law enforcement. 

Does your business have candidates whose criminal histories make hiring or providing specific benefits challenging? At backgroundchecks.com, we designed a program called MyClearStart to help employers get information about expungement into the hands of their applicants.

Do I need an account to run a background check?
Before you order any searches from us, you’ll need an account with backgroundchecks.com. Under various laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you must prove that you have a permissible purpose to order a background check before you access the content of the reports. This process is easy and 100% online through our platform. If you don’t have an account, don’t worry. It’s fast and easy to set one up. To see what information you need, go here:
Do I need an account?
Before you order any searches from us, you’ll need an account with backgroundchecks.com. Under various laws, including the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), you must prove that you have a permissible purpose to order a background check before you access the content of the reports. This process is easy and 100% online through our platform. If you don’t have an account, don’t worry. It’s fast and easy to set one up. To see what information you need, go here:
Do I need permission for a reference check?
You may refer to the learning center
Do I need to have a copy of the license or certificate to order a verification?
No, you do not need a copy, but we do ask for the name of the issuing organization, the license number, license type, state of issuance, date the license or certificate was issue and when it expires.
Do I require an account to receive an Instant Criminal+ report?
Yes. We do require all businesses to register for an account before a report can be sent. You can read more about registering for an account here. Once your account has been verified, your instant report will be accessible in your portal.
Do Previous Legal Names Appear on Background Checks?
We incorporate Social Security Numbers into many of our checks—particularly criminal history—so that we can find past names associated with those SSNs. If a candidate has previous legal names, we will note this information and recommend running additional checks on those names.
Do traffic tickets show on criminal background checks?

In most cases, traffic tickets or other driving-related infractions will not be included in criminal background check reports. Most speeding tickets are considered civil infractions rather than misdemeanors or felonies, and civil infractions rarely show up on criminal history checks. 

That’s not to say that employers cannot find traffic citations with a background check. Motor vehicle record checks offer a way to find this information and are common for jobs that involve operating vehicles or heavy machinery. 

Of course, there are driving offenses considered misdemeanors or felonies, including reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol. These convictions will appear on a criminal background report. 

To learn more about what information may appear on a driving history check – from traffic tickets to license classification – visit our driving record background check product page.

Do you have a comprehensive overview of all state and local restrictions on credit checks and credit history inquiries?
You may refer to the pdf here
Do you have an overview of the access costs that each state charges?
No, these vary by state and are subject to change without notice. These access charges range from a few dollars to over $20. Before you finalize your order, we will show the exact access fee for that state at that time.
Do you have information on juveniles in your criminal record database?
Juvenile records are not part of our coverage. Information on most juvenile offenses is not released and most courts and states do not provide information on people under 17.
Do you provide financial records, such as bank account information?
No, bank account information is considered private and is not publicly available. However, we do provide reports that may include bankruptcy information which is publicly available and may be viewed as a financial record. For interested customers we can purchase credit reports from a credit bureau.
Do you report divorces?
No, divorces are not reported on any criminal history search.
Do you report traffic violations as part of civil searches?
No, we do not.
Do you search the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) or a different system?
We carry out a system-based real time multi-jurisdictional warrant search.
Do your criminal reports include credit history?
No, we do not provide results on an individual's credit in our criminal reports. Credit history is not publicly available and is considered private information. For interested customers we can purchase credit reports from a credit bureau.
Do your reports provide Date of Birth and Social Security Number information?
No, social security number information is not usually publicly available. However, date of birth information is commonly found in public records. Many of our criminal record data sources include date of birth in the information they provide.
Does ban the box work?

There is debate about how effective this policy is in making employment more accessible for ex-offenders.

Champions say that it helps to reconfigure the mindset of employers and hiring managers in a powerful way, helping them to see beyond a person’s convictions to their skills and qualifications. According to a study conducted by the Urban Institute, these policies improve callback rates for people with criminal records, which means that they are effective for eliminating the tendency of hiring managers to immediately disqualify any candidate who self-identifies as having a criminal rap sheet.

That finding is significant, given the fact that–per the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)–a criminal background can reduce a person’s likelihood of a callback or employment offer by almost 50 percent.

However, critics of this legislation argue that it merely delays the moment in hiring when an employer would disqualify a candidate for a relevant criminal conviction, wasting both the candidate’s and hiring manager’s time. The Urban Institute study also found that banning the box has “reduced the likelihood that employers call back or hire young black and Latino men.”

Does no records found mean that my subject does not have crimes on their record?
There are several reasons why 0 records might be found in a database search. You entered incorrect information like a misspelled first or last name and/or the incorrect date of birth. You entered a hyphenated name, middle initial in the first name box, a suffix such as JR, SR II, III, IV at the end of the last name or a special character in the first or last name box. The search was conducted by name and date of birth; but available public records do not associate this name and/or date of birth with the record. The subject searched is a minor and we do not search juvenile records. You entered a hyphenated name. Our database does not provide results for hyphenated names, therefore, you must enter the last name with a space rather than a hyphen (-) or you may use the last part of the hyphenated name for the best results. Do not add any generations such as Jr. Sr. II or III. You entered two first names. We are referring to names like Bobbie Sue, Amy Lynn and Billie Joe - please do not use them. Use only the first part of the two-part name as any extension of the name will be reported. Example, if you are searching Amy Lynn - Just use Amy and if there is a match with Amy Lynn it will come back. You entered a nickname. Court records use the subject's full legal name, not nicknames. You entered a middle name as a first name. Court records use the subject's first name, not a middle name that the subject goes by. The record you might have expected to find is not within the agreed available covered jurisdictions. backgroundcheck.com, like all criminal record database search companies, offers limited criminal record coverage, and most likely the known record is not within our coverage acknowledged in our terms and conditions. The fact is, not all county, or municipal courts nationally will share their information with third party companies or do not have the records indexed in a searchable format. For an upfront understanding of our state and county coverage, visit our interactive coverage map. The record you might have expected to find is expunged or sealed by court order.
How big is your database?
Our US OneSEARCH database currently contains over 650 million criminal records derived from a comprehensive list of sources.
How can I talk to someone?
We'd love to talk to you to answer your questions!. Contact our sales team.
How current is the data I am searching?
We collect publicly available information from hundreds of data sources which include county courts, state administrative Office of the courts, state departments of corrections and many more. We have limited control in their update frequency as it is set by and varies by each data source. However, data strength is one of many aspects that sets us apart from our competitors and we go to great lengths to acquire and maintain our data. We are continually evaluating our processes to ensure timely and quality results.
How do employment history checks work?

An employment verification check is mostly meant to check the validity of the work history information a candidate provides on their resume. It’s not uncommon for job applicants to embellish their work history to make it look more impressive to a prospective employer. That might mean tweaking a job title, changing a start or end date, or listing job responsibilities outside the scope of the position. Employment verification checks involve contacting previous employers—usually HR staff—and verifying the accuracy of these key information points.

On the subject of employment history checks, one common question is what employers can or cannot say about a previous employee. If you are an employer, you may be wondering what you can ask a former employer about a job candidate or what you are allowed to say if an employer contacts you about a past employee. 

Contrary to popular belief, no federal law restricts what employers can disclose about past employees. For instance, if the candidate you are screening was fired from a previous job, the employer can share that detail and explain the reasoning behind the decision.

However, just because there is no federal law on the subject doesn’t mean employers are always open to discussing anything and everything about their ex-employees. Most employers tread carefully here for fear of defamation lawsuits. 

As a result, employers don’t typically want to comment too much on things that might be deemed subjective – such as the character or work ethic of past employees. Especially if the employer doesn’t have anything nice to say about their ex-worker, they don’t want to put themselves in a situation where they could feasibly be taken to court for slandering that person. 

So, instead of asking questions that focus on an employer’s opinions about a past employee, most employment verification checks focus on objective and easily verifiable details. These details include verifiable employment dates, job titles, duties or responsibilities, and salary information.

How do I start promoting the MyClearStart program?
Anybody wanting to promote the program can simply link to www.myclearstart.com. Upon request, we also provide a sample set of promotional banners and the MyClearStart logo that you can use on your site. You are free to share this promotional material with others who wish to promote the program. For more information, contact MyClearStart by email
How do reference checks work?

In most cases, job seekers have a list of 2-3 professional references that they submit alongside their resume, cover letter, and job application. These references, theoretically, are people who are willing to speak favorably about the job seeker’s skills, abilities, work habits, and more. However, since job seekers ask references to speak on their behalf, reference checks can touch upon subjective topics that work history verifications usually cannot, including personality, character, and work ethic. 

Read on to find out how we can check your candidate's references.

How do you comply with the FCRA?
All employers that wish to use background checks to guide employment decisions should review the FCRA in detail and seek guidance on FCRA compliance from their attorneys.
How does ban the box affect employee checks?

This query is one of the most frequently asked questions about banning the box from both employers and job seekers. Especially as the campaign started picking up steam a few years ago, professionals often mistakenly interpreted it as a ban of all criminal checks for hiring purposes.

In truth, these laws do not typically forbid employers from running checks on their applicants. However, some box-banning legislation does require a delay in obtaining a criminal check until after the first job interview or after making a conditional employment offer.

Some of these laws also restrict how an employer can use the information obtained in a check, require employers to give additional notices to applicants, or delay the hiring process by granting candidates the right to appeal employer decisions based on criminal history information.

None of these limitations states that employers can't disqualify applicants based on past convictions. A conditional offer of employment can be withdrawn. Some ban the box laws (including the Hawaii prototype law) do limit withdrawals to situations in which check findings indicate that an applicant has a criminal conviction history that directly affects their ability to perform the job in question.

For instance, an employer could fairly disqualify a candidate with multiple DUI or DWI convictions from consideration for a truck driver position, because those convictions speak directly to that person’s safety and responsibility behind the wheel. On the other hand, those same convictions have a very minor relationship to an office job and wouldn’t necessarily be legal grounds for an employer withdrawing a conditional hiring offer.

Ban the box laws encourage employers to consider criminal histories on a case-by-case basis rather than rejecting all applicants who check a crime records box on a job application or report specific types of criminal history. They function not to bar employers from considering conviction history when making hiring decisions but rather to bring nuance to those considerations.

How far back do background checks go?

How far back a criminal background check goes depends on the state. No federal law regulates the lookback period for criminal history checks. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) does have rules limiting the “adverse information” a credit bureau can report about a consumer. 

However, that part of the FCRA only applies to credit history checks. There is no corresponding rule for criminal history checks. 

Instead, most states decide on this matter on their own. Most commonly, criminal background checks are allowed to look back seven years.

How far back does a Driving Record Report go?
This varies by state but will go back at least 3 years.
How fast can I receive a background check?
For many checks, it takes less than 3 minutes to place an order. You can get most criminal checks in about 2 minutes if you already have an account with us. Some checks take more than 2 minutes. Here's more on this.
How long does it take to receive a report?
The typical turnaround time to return a county criminal report ranges from 1 to 3 business days. In some instances, it may take longer.
How many references should I check?
You may refer to the learning center
I didn’t get the records I was expecting to find on myself.
There are several reasons why 0 records might be found. You entered incorrect information like a misspelled first or last name and/or the incorrect date of birth. You entered a hyphenated name, middle initial in the first name box, a suffix such as JR, SR II, III, IV at the end of the last name or a special character in the first or last name box. The search was conducted by name and date of birth; but available public records do not associate this name and/or date of birth with the record. The subject searched is a minor and we do not search juvenile records. You entered a hyphenated name. Our database does not provide results for hyphenated names, therefore, you must enter the last name with a space rather than a hyphen (-) or you may use the last part of the hyphenated name for the best results. Do not add any generations such as Jr. Sr. II or III. You entered two first names. We are referring to names like Bobbie Sue, Amy Lynn and Billie Joe - please do not use them. Use only the first part of the two-part name as any extension of the name will be reported. Example, if you are searching Amy Lynn - Just use Amy and if there is a match with Amy Lynn it will come back. You entered a nickname. Court records use the subject's full legal name, not nicknames. You entered a middle name as a first name. Court records use the subject's first name, not a middle name that the subject goes by.
In what states can I have my record expunged?
MyClearStart currently supports the free eligibility test in the following states: Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah and Washington. For other states click here.
Instant Criminal+ and Instant Criminal+ Local County screen for similar things. How are the 2 different?
Both searches are instant in our database, but Instant Criminal+ Local County also includes the option to search in a criminal database of a local jurisdiction where the subject has lived most recently. We recommend Instant Criminal+ Local County because it’s more thorough than Instant Criminal+.
Instant Criminal+ Local County and Instant Criminal+ All Counties screen for similar things. How are the 2 different?
Both searches are instant in our database, but Instant Criminal+ Local County also includes the option to search in a criminal database of a local jurisdiction where the subject has lived most recently. Instant Criminal+ All Counties will allow you to search more criminal databases, typically 1-3 different jurisdictions. We recommend Instant Criminal+ All Counties because it will confirm more local results with the county criminal courts than Instant Criminal+ Local County.
Is a verified search still instant?
Because California, Connecticut, Maine, Minnesota and Indiana currently require us and other consumer reporting agencies to verify criminal matches found during our instant database search directly with the source before reporting them, we are prevented from providing criminal records instantly in these four states. Is a verified search still an instant search? Yes and no. A criminal record search using our US OneVERIFY search option, will still return clear results back instantly, but when we discover criminal records that are a possible match, the system automatically changes the status to ‘in progress’ while our quality assurance department verifies each hit with the respective source. Depending on the number of hits and the response time from each search this can take a few days. Our average turnaround time for a verified search that initially has hits, is 1-3 business days.
Is anyone notified of my search?
No one is notified that you have ordered a report on yourself.
Is the MyClearStart program really free?
Yes, the program is free to use for background screening firms and their customers. We will not charge any costs to you to participate in or promote the program.
Is there another way to get an address history or list of aliases?
The ins and outs of social security number driven name and address history The US OneTRACE check is the fastest, easiest and most cost effective way to retrieve the best possible address history for a subject, aside from asking the subject for the information and relying on their comprehensive listing of their past address history. Employers frequently desire to order county criminal record searches in all counties where the subject lived in the past seven years. If you want to make that selection based on an independent listing of addresses, the US OneTRACE is your best option. The US OneTRACE check is included as part of our US AliasSEARCH or US AliasVERIFY instant criminal database searches. Additional benefits of providing a social security number as part of an instant criminal database search: When you provide a full name including first, middle and last name, and the social security number (SSN), we report the state and the approximate date of issuance of the SSN for Social Security Numbers issued prior to the Social Security Administration's (SSA) randomization initiative started in June 25, 2011 and we run the SSN through the SSA Death Master Index and alert you if the SSN belong to a deceased person. This allows you to better identify and prevent identity fraud.
My case is deferred, dismissed or discharged. Why is it still available to the public?
Court records are generally public records. Even if your case is dismissed, deferred or discharged, your offense is still publicly available. Which means your prospective employer, landlord or school may discover the court case.
Packages for industries or sectors?
If your organization is in healthcare, transportation, or construction / manufacturing, you may be more interested in an industry-specific package.
The information reported in your reports is wrong. Can I update it?
Yes, please visit our disputes page for this answer.
What are fair chance laws?

These legislative requirements are part of a broader “Fair Chance” employment movement.

Proponents of this kind of hiring argue that discriminating against job candidates based on the slightest trace of crime records forces offenders to keep paying for offenses even after they have served out their sentences and paid their dues to society. Some employment advocates claim that offering more gainful employment opportunities for ex-offenders can reduce recidivism and prevent crime.

Sometimes, Fair Chance laws include banning the box elements. Other times, they focus on different factors, such as encouraging employers to consider past criminal misdeeds on a case-by-case basis rather than with a blanket policy that denies all candidates ever convicted of criminal activity.

Sometimes, these hiring laws don’t concern criminal information at all. For example, some localities have ordinances in place limiting employers’ ability to conduct credit history checks on their candidates.

Not all Fair Chance laws apply to hiring. As banning the box has grown more common, it has also developed momentum in housing. Some jurisdictions are limiting landlords in their ability to disqualify housing candidates based on criminal history.

Banning the box has also gained a foothold in higher education, with colleges and universities becoming more interested in fairly admitting students with criminal backgrounds.

While the box-banning campaign and the Fair Chance movement are often treated as synonyms, ban the box is just one piece of a broader movement.

What are my rights under FCRA?
The FCRA regulates consumer reporting agencies so that they conduct their business in fair, impartial, and respectful ways, particularly regarding consumer privacy. As a job seeker, the FCRA protects you throughout the pre-employment background check process. No employer can launch an investigation of your background without first disclosing their intention to do so and obtaining your express written consent. In addition, employers cannot disqualify you from job consideration based on background check findings without first notifying you and giving you a chance to dispute those findings
What are public records and publicly available information?
Public records is information that has been filed or recorded by local, state, federal, or other government agencies, such as corporate and property records. Public records include vital records, immigration records, real estate records, driving records, criminal records, voter registration, etc. Most essential public records are maintained by the government and many are accessible to the public. Availability is determined by federal, state, and local regulations.
What Are Verification Checks?

Criminal history searches are just one part of a thorough pre-employment background check process. In addition to looking at criminal records, most employers take time to verify the information their candidates provide on resumes and job applications. 

Lies, half-truths, or embellishments are unfortunately common in today’s job market. Because a criminal background check doesn’t reveal anything about a person’s past employment or education. It ultimately isn’t an effective tool to help employers flag lies about work history or college degrees. 

These details must instead be checked using verification checks. There are a few different types of verifications available from backgroundchecks.com, including employment history, education, professional licensing or certification, and reference checks.

What costs are involved in criminal record expungement?
Each state charges different fees. If you take the free eligibility test, all fees will be shown prior to you making any commitment.
What do education history checks show?
Similar to employment history, education history is a resume detail that employers may want to verify about their candidates. Education verification can be crucial for pre-hiring due diligence, especially in academia or in jobs requiring specific degrees or credentials. You can check our product page for education history checks to learn more about how they work and why they are important in the background check process.
What do you do if the past employer does not exist anymore?
As a last resort we can contact the subject of your search and ask them provide us with a copy of their W-2 for the period of their employment and use that to verify the key aspects of their employment history.
What do you do if the past employer refuses to speak to you?
As a last resort we can contact the subject of your search and ask them provide us with a copy of their W-2 for the period of their employment and use that to verify the key aspects of their employment history.
What do you do if the school refuses to release the information?
You may refer to the learning center here.
What does FCRA compliant mean?
Staying compliant with the FCRA requires employers to follow a federal law called the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) to the letter. This law includes specific requirements regarding how employers use background checks for employment purposes. Specific sections of the FCRA cover nuanced guidelines for background check disclosure and authorization and what employers must do if they wish to disqualify a candidate from job consideration based on background check findings. Employers should establish written background screening policies that incorporate FCRA requirements.
What does FCRA mean on a credit report?
FCRA stands for “Fair Credit Reporting Act.” It is a federal law enacted in 1971 that regulates the consumer reporting agency industry and protects consumer privacy. All credit reporting bureaus are subject to the FCRA, including all background check companies.
What does it take to set up a new account with backgroundchecks.com?
You can register a new account online now. Registration takes minutes. Then you can get your first instant report about 2 minutes later.
What does my company have to do regarding ban the box law?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

These laws vary significantly from one state or local jurisdiction to the next. While your business is statistically likely to be in a part of the country where such a law exists (NELP says that three-quarters of the U.S. population now “lives in a jurisdiction that has banned to box”), that doesn’t mean that your company is obligated to do anything right now.

Of the 36 states that ban in the box, only 14 of them extend their requirements to private entities (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington).

20 areas–including Chicago, Baltimore, Los Angeles, New York City, San Francisco, Seattle, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and the District of Columbia–extend their protections to private jobs. Otherwise, most of these laws currently apply only to public employers.

You should take the time to research the legislative requirements in your state, county, and city or town. If a relevant law or ordinance is on the books, review the language of the law closely to determine whether it applies to your company. If you need help deciphering the law, our terminology page can help.

If the law does apply to your company, you will need to take the steps to comply–whether that means removing questions about criminal backgrounds from your applications, delaying your criminal checks until later in hiring, or something else.

Your business can also opt to abolish the box of its own accord. Some organizations have taken this step to signal that they are welcoming to individuals who have made mistakes in the past and are trying to rebuild their lives. Banning the box before you are legally required to do so can also put you ahead of the curve for compliance if your state or local jurisdiction does decide to end the box.

What happens when I press the button to place an order for one of the 3 standard packages?
First, we’ll ask if you have an account. If you don’t have one, we’ll show you how to set one up. Here’s what to expect when you place order: You click on a button to start your automated process. You enter the information about the person whose background you’re checking. We call this person the subject of your search. You’ll need your subject’s First Name, Middle Name, Last Name, and Social Security Number (SSN). We’ll run a fast check of the subject’s SSN and verify their prior addresses. If you’re ordering the Instant Criminal+ Local County or Instant Criminal+ All Counties package, we’ll recommend county court criminal searches in and near the counties where the subject has lived. We’ll recommend other optional searches and checks that may be of interest. Before you place your order, you can upgrade to these added searches. We’ll show you the total of running the check.
What is a background check?

When most people think of a background check, they think of a simple criminal history check. In truth, though, most background checks entail much more than that. 

Defined simply, a background check is the tool employers use to vet their candidates as thoroughly as possible. This process involves looking at criminal records, but it can also entail education and employment history, civil records, professional references, etc. A good background check shows a wide variety of information. Note that background checks can take several days to process, so planning and knowing what information you want to check is essential for ensuring a timely service.

Why is each of these types of information important? In the case of a criminal history check, learning about a person’s background may be vital to keeping your company, your employees, and your customers safe. Employment and education verifications help ensure that applicants have the skills and experience necessary to perform the job at hand. Some background checks can even verify whether applicants are truthful about their identity – and whether they are wanted internationally. 

Call these processes what you will: background screenings, background checks or pre-employment screenings. Regardless of the name, these tools are always there to help protect your company from the risk of a bad hire. Those risks can include bad press, negligent hiring lawsuits, and other liabilities. Most employers believe detailed background checks are worth the cost of admission to minimize these risks.

One important thing to note here is the importance of identifying information for background checks. Most criminal records are filed by name, which can be a stumbling block given how many people share common names. Knowing other details about a candidate – such as their birthdate, Social Security Number, or where they live – is vital to help make sure records belong to your applicant. These extra pieces of identifying information can also help background check providers pull records associated with a candidate’s aliases or prior names, including maiden names.

What is an adverse action notice?
In some states, employers must notify a job candidate when they receive a background check that may lead them to withhold a job offer.
What is the 'ban the box' law?

The first step to understanding the implications of this law is to define what the law is. The “box” in the phrase refers to the question on job applications that asks applicants whether they have ever been convicted of a crime. Typically, candidates are asked to check yes or no to answer this question, hence the “box.”

Applications with this question require job seekers to self-identify as criminal offenders from the start of the job application process. A ban the box law is a legislative action that requires employers to remove this question–as well as any other criminal history questions–from applications.

These laws seek to prevent employment discrimination against individuals with crime records. The idea is that an employer gets a chance to form an initial impression of each applicant’s character, skillset, and overall job fitness before learning that he or she has a criminal past.

With no criminal history questions on the job application, and with checks often delayed until late in hiring, an ex-offender will theoretically have a better chance of being “the best person for the job.”

Most banning the box legislation also places other restrictions and requirements on employers. For instance, some states prohibit employers from inquiring about arrests, dismissed charges, sealed records, or history in a diversion program.

Some of these laws restrict employers from inquiring about criminal history until after the first interview or after they make a conditional offer of employment. Some jurisdictions require employers to consider other factors, such as time-related restrictions or whether the criminal history is job-related.

What is the scope and typical turnaround time on a state criminal record search?
The time it takes to fulfill a criminal search at the state court varies wildly, from one business day to several weeks. Before finalizing the order, you can view a typical turnaround time for each direct court search in our shopping cart. By default a statewide search covers 7 years of criminal record history, but customers can select from a variety of different time spans (such as 10, 20 or 30 years) when they submit their search, provided state law does not restrict such time spans. Do take into account that while our goal is to update our instant database with new counties and new county records regularly, it is possible that a traditional on-premise court house search would provide more up-to-date information and could, for example, show that a criminal record with a pending case status in our instant data base has been recently dismissed.
What offenses can be cleared with MyClearStart's expungement service?
Each jurisdiction is different so take the free eligibility test to find out.
What should I do when I see an outstanding warrant reported for my subject on your report?
You should contact the agency listed on the report details section of the report and take no further action.
What shows on a civil history check?

A civil history background check is an entirely different matter than a criminal background check. Where criminal cases are brought to court by the state, civil cases are brought instead by the alleged victim. For instance, if someone sues their neighbor over a property damage claim, that case becomes part of the civil court history for both the plaintiff and the defendant. A civil background check would therefore turn up information about that case.

Note that there are two types of civil history background checks: county and federal. To understand what shows on these different civil history records, read our blog post on the matter.

What’s the cost of a county criminal search?
The fee is $12.75 for a search of one county. Sometimes county courts charge added fees. Their fees range from a few dollars to a current high of $95 in New York. Before you enter your order, we tell you how much your search will cost – including all local fees.
What’s the role of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commision (EEOC)?
The EEOC is a federal organization that regulates the reporting of employment-related data. Learn more.
What’s the scope of the search?
All of our county criminal searches include convictions for felonies and misdemeanors within the jurisdiction of the county court. All of our criminal searches go back at least seven years. When you place your order, you can choose to extend the search to go back 10, 20, or 30 years. You can extend the search unless laws in the state limit searches to seven years.
When I order a standard package, can I add other reports and checks?
Yes. During your automated ordering process, we suggest optional reports and checks you may want to consider. You can add them to your order before you complete it.
Where can I promote the MyClearStart program?
As an employer, you could decide to promote the program in consumer notices that the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires, such as pre-adverse and adverse action letters. But you could equally well decide to present MyClearStart on your site’s career section and application forms or even develop call scripts or email templates for HR staff to use in response to applicant inquiries.
Which county should you order?
Before you place your order, you enter the subject’s full name, address, and social security number (SSN). Our system instantly checks the name and address history of that SSN. From the address history we find, we suggest that you run searches in the counties where the subject has lived. We present these suggestions to you in real time. Then on the order screen, you can choose whether to search in the counties we’ve suggested.
Who does ban the box law apply to?

One of the most critical things to understand about banning the box is that it is not just one law. Rather, it is a broader trend made up of hundreds of different laws, ordinances, pieces of pending legislation, and on-the-ground advocacy campaigns. While it is possible that, someday, there could be a nationwide law, the current legislation is a patchwork.

Unfortunately, the current structure of banning the box legislation makes it more challenging for employers to understand their obligations. Some laws are enforced on the state level; others are ordinances that only apply to specific cities or counties. Some laws apply only to public employers; others include companies that do contract work with government departments, while some extend to private companies.

Even when banning the box legislation does apply to private businesses, it sometimes only requires compliance for employers with more than a certain number of employees, leaving smaller businesses to make their own decisions.

The trending nature of the fair employment movement means that laws are constantly changing. New jurisdictions are adopting their own box-banning legislation each year, while jurisdictions that already have laws or ordinances in place sometimes amend and update those laws to include new requirements.

Because of these factors, employers need to be vigilant about keeping up with the latest laws in their local jurisdiction and state. Before establishing a hiring policy or background check protocol, all employers should check relevant laws and ordinances to determine their obligations for compliance.

Failure to comply with these laws can result in fines and other legal consequences. Doing research before drawing up a job application or deciding when to run a check can help employers to avoid these costly lapses in compliance.

To help you, here are a few frequently asked questions about these laws, including the key details that employers should know about this legislative movement.

Who does your data come from?
backgroundchecks.com has the #1 criminal conviction records database in the industry, based on a comparison of the number of sources of conviction data for online criminal conviction databases that make their source list publicly available. Our sources include hundreds of direct sources such as county courts, state administrative office of the courts, state department of corrections and many more. We also use third party data providers which allows us access to billions of records, thus improving the quality and volume of your results.
Why are federal criminal records not included in an instant database search?
The federal courthouses do not make their criminal records available to private criminal database operators.
Why do bankruptcy records not show up on a regular federal civil search?
US federal districts handle bankruptcy cases in a separate court. We can carry out a search for any bankruptcy associated with an applicant that is recorded in the specific US District Court that you request. The information returned may include case or file number, date filed, type of bankruptcy (i.e. Chapter 11, Chapter 7, etc.), discharge date, and names listed as petitioners.
Why do county searches take longer than instant searches? And why do search times vary from county to county?
To speed up your delivery, we always try to get electronic access to county criminal records. However, some counties offer electronic access to court records, and others don’t. For the courts that limit electronic access, someone must go to the courthouse in person. For such situations, we’ve assembled a nationwide network of experienced criminal record researchers. Our researchers know the local courthouses and court clerks, and they go on site to retrieve court records. In other counties, our researcher can perform the record search on a public terminal at the courthouse. In some counties, researchers must fill out a record search form, then wait for a court clerk to perform the search. That’s why the duration of the search varies.
Why do I need to sign a special release form to order driving record reports?
Because driving record information is not public record information and we retrieve the information directly from the respective state institution.
Why do the Instant Criminal+ Local County and Instant Criminal+ All Counties packages take 1 to 3 days to deliver reports?
Because we must get records from county courts who do not all provide electronic access to their court records. Some require an in-person visit to the court house which results in more time.
Why does my record still show up on a background check report even after the judge ordered it expunged or sealed?
Since many courts and agencies do NOT proactively inform the public of expungements, a person may obtain a court order expunging or sealing a record but that order may never be received by the criminal record database companies, who are a source of criminal record information to many of the background screening companies in the US. Consumers that engage with the MyClearStart program and the attorneys from our partner can rest assured that, once the offense has been officially expunged or sealed, the lawyer also works to remove the records from proprietary criminal databases at the nation's largest criminal record database providers that have joined forces in the Expungement Clearinghouse. And for people that already have an expungement, our partner can now offer you an additional service that will expedite the removal or modification of your criminal record. The Expungement Clearinghouse expedites the updating of information provided to over 500 commercial background screening providers in the U.S. by securely sharing data about expunged criminal records with participating member companies. The clearinghouse provides a faster and more coordinated approach for consumers, their attorneys, courts and other sources to efficiently disseminate information about criminal records that have been cleared or updated by the courts to the commercial background screening industry. Having MyClearStart handle your case means that you will have the security and confidence in knowing that you have an experienced and licensed attorney working to make sure your record is cleared by the court to the fullest extent possible as fast as possible and removed from private criminal databases. We have partnered with The Law Firm of Higbee & Associates to offer you this service.
Why must I pay a fee to set up an account?
When you order reports, we must certify that you are a business with a permissible purpose to request such data. To check your credentials, we have to order verification information from sources that charge us a fee. Our registration fee pays for those charges.
Will a DUI show up on a driving record report?
No, a DUI is not expected to show up. If you specifically want to order a search to uncover possible DUI offenses, we recommend you order a criminal search.

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